Putty and tree – how to avoid weird characters (squares)

Character encoding is always a problem when communicating between Windows and Linux. And using the “tree” command is affected by this problem if you are connected to a Linux box using Putty on a Windows box. You will certainly get weird characters, probably squares.

For those who are not sure about what tree is. It is a command-line tool to list contents of directories in a tree-like format.

A solution to this problem is to force using plain ASCII characters:

tree --charset=ASCII

You can also have an alias for this command, so that every time you type “tree“, it will force tree to use the ASCII charset automatically.

alias tree='tree --charset=ASCII'

And this is an example of what you will get as an output:

/tmp
|-- claws-mail-1000
|-- keyring-x803mg
|   |-- control
|   |-- pkcs11
|   `-- ssh
|-- orbit-gdm [error opening dir]
`-- virtual-user

7 Replies to “Putty and tree – how to avoid weird characters (squares)”

  1. Or you can configure Putty to use UTF-8 encoding, which will work in more circumstances and without needing a dotfile fix.

    Settings>Window>Translation

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